The Lure of Live-Action

Does the fact that cartoon channels like Cartoon Network and Teletoon are no longer interested in airing animation have any relation to the fact that Ice Age director Chris Wedge and Ratatouille director Brad Bird are now directing live-action features. Animation director Mark Mayerson seems to thinks so and his commentary is a thought-provoking read. Here’s what Mayerson has to say about directors like Wedge and Bird who are trying out live-action:

“As much as we want to believe that animation is a medium and not a genre, maybe everybody outgrows it after a while. Which isn’t to say that animation isn’t capable of more than it’s currently doing, but looking at what’s out there now, it’s not hard to sympathize with directors who want to try something new.”


  • Vince Foster Freeze

    Andrew Stanton’s next feature, “John Carter of Mars” is also in the live action camp. It could be major animation directors are moving there simply because that’s where the work is.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Huh. Odd and uncomfortable to think about. When I read things like this, I feel “betrayed” somehow (yeah, that’s stupid), because almost anything animated is inherently more interesting than almost anything not animated. Brad Bird doing live action is sort of a waste.

    The news of CN and other traditionally all-cartoon channels creeping towards live action programming makes me think that the responsible executives ought to be Mussolini’d, right alongside the members and associates of a certain prominent American dynasty which deserves crude, high-speed topiary. But, hey, maybe that’s a little harsh. About the animation executives, I mean.

  • Matt Sullivan

    I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I don’t think I care anymore. Partially because no amount of griping is going to stop CN from airing lousy live action shows like Tim & Eric, and partially because of such frequent BITCHING on the part of us animators.

    I wrote a script once and remarked how I thought it would be neat to see it in live action. All my animation friends commented on how it should “stay animated”, without a single one of them asking me WHY I thought that, or even pondering that it might be better that way.

    It took me 5 years to get a new animation job. Tell you the truth, next time I might just aply to a live-action job. Least I won’t have to listen to whole universe of animators who do nothing but whine all the time.

  • http://foadghorbani.blogspot.com Fouad

    It seems Game industry is going to dominate animation, Not Live action.

  • http://gogopedro.blogspot.com PEDRO

    The Header Graphic you have on this makes me laugh and cry a little in a single breath. I Love Animation…But will admit that I’ve felt a drift….. Not to live action, but, outward…

    P

    Thanks for sharing the info….good article.

  • jon

    Someone needs to make a successful animated movie that doesnt care much for the child audience. Theres only so much you can do when everything has to be rated G.

  • http://www.optionjoe.blogspot.com Joe Apel

    I was thinking that possibly the reason why Bird, Wedge and Stanton are moving into live-action is because they would like to do more serious films. It’s sad that the American movie-going audience can’t get pass thinking that animation is strictly for kids/families or as comedies.

  • http://cidcartoons.blogspot.com Rodrigo

    “Outgrow” is a terrible way to put it. That implies that animation is an immature subset of film.

    Brad Bird has always had an affinity with realistic stories so it suits him to go into live action. His films weren’t extremely animated, or cartoony, per se, so it make sense. He’s a master story teller, but not necessarily one of my favorites in terms of animation.

    I don’t know why animators and cartoonists aren’t confident in themselves. Those guys at Termite Terrace did what they loved their entire lives, and now they’ve been cannonized in our entertainment history. Same thing goes for the 9 old men.

    Mark Mayerson, maybe you shouldn’t have ever started in animation. It sounds like you aren’t an animator at heart.

  • http://www.bridgerack.com Finn Parks

    Its an interesting and timely view on the entertainment world, but it also fails to take into consideration live action directors crossing over to the animation side. One highly notable example is Wes Anderson with his upcoming Fantastic Mr. Fox. The screenplay was written by Anderson and his frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach – - also new to the animation. To add to this you still have Tim Burton (no stranger to any medium) putting a lot of faith in Shane Acker’s upcoming animated feature 9. I think things shake up and change in trends but if we truly recognize animation as a medium and not a genre – - which i do – - we can’t be surprised when directors do different things. It should be no less surprising then an artist switching from oils to watercolors, or from painting to photography.

    Always worth laughing about is the ignorance of short-sighted executives when they blame a film or tv show’s failure to attract an audience not by merit alone but with what it was painted. Imagine coming to the same general conclusion on a daily basis: “You know, our gauche painting wouldn’t be so damn sucky had it been done up in acrylics like the others! Acrylics are what they want! Give me more acrylics!” While artists and directors will always desire to switch it up, the humorous follies behind business decisions is the one thing that never seems to change.

  • http://www.stephenneary.blogspot.com stephen

    It works the other way too–Robert Zemeckis is always getting his mo-cap on, and there are enough effects in big-budget blockbusters these days to almost make them animated movies in their own way.

    I think I heard Zemeckis say camera moves were easier to plan and execute in 3d. And the wachowski bros relied heavily on a 3d Neo in the second matrix so they could have greater camera freedom as well.

    If these reasons for switching to 3D are more technical in nature, I would like to hope that Bird and Wedge want to do live action films for more organic reasons–like the chance to work with real, live actors. Animation is awesome, but it will never be human (please don’t kill me for saying this). And as Bird says, why would you want to make a photorealistic human anyway?

  • http://www.chrisoatley.com Chris Oatley

    I disagree with this statement by Mark Mayerson.

    Animation Directors don’t “outgrow” animation any more than Spielberg and Zemeckis (and now John Favreau) have “outgrown” live action and moved into the realm of animation.

    I think that good directors like Spielberg, Zemeckis and the amazing Pixar directors outgrow everything eventually.

    It is their own creativity and constant desire to try new things, accept new challenges and tell stories in a medium that they believe best suits the kind of story they want to tell that drives them to step outside of the medium within which they achieved enough success to grant them the liberty of experimentation.

    As far as the whole proliferation of live action at CN, I don’t know what the origins of said proliferation are. However, ‘Out Of Jimmy’s Head,’ though interesting, doesn’t seem any more transcendent than Foster’s etc… I believe that its just a matter of experimentation with different media and neither is any more or less advanced than the other.

  • big bad balloono

    I’m with M.Sully on this one. After seeing so many disappointing animated tv series/features – at this point I just want a well-written, enticing story with unique characters or at least intriguing characters with interesting(not annoying) quirks.

    No medium has ever inspired me(good and bad) as much as animation. I’m still amazed at some of the incredible work being created in animation – but it seems so far and few between I have no choice but to turn to live action to get my rocks off.

    Work-wise, I don’t blame any artist(specifically in animation) for exploring new avenues and sharing their unique gifts with a new crowd. ‘Mators gotta eat!

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    This trend goes all the way back to Frank Tashlin ditching animation to direct Jerry Lewis flicks & “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”

  • Mr. Semaj

    The general idea of animation directors switching to live-action (or vice-versa) is nothing new.

    Walt Disney switched to live-action to keep his studio alive during the 1940′s, though that later became a recurring excuse by others to kill his animation studio when the opportunity cam along. >:(

    Frank Tashlin spent the rest of his career after 1946 directing live-action features.

    So no, there’s no correlation between Brad Bird and Chris Wedge trying their hand in live-action, and the live-action junk seen today on Cartoon NOT-work.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Hard as it may be to believe, there still ARE people who believe in animation, and don’t see it just as a stepping stone to live action. These are the ones that stick with the medium through hell and high water. They’re the ones with passion for cartoons and couldn’t do anything else but create them if they tried.

    Chuck Jones said that the term “animator” is a gift word. It isn’t something you can call yourself. It has to be given to you based on your work and dedication to the artform. Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough animators in this world.

  • http://ohhello.tv Dan

    this is strange thing to even comment on, with animation directors jumping over to live action, I’m more excited about a Brad Bird live action feature than I am about the next Robert Zemeckis 3d feature. And with modern filmmaking going the way it is there really that large of a difference? Would you call George Lucas or the Wachowski siblings live action directors after they’re latest films? I wouldn’t.

    Personally I love animation, but that there hasn’t been a mainstream American animated film like Fritz the Cat, in terms of rating and success, since well Fritz the Cat. In the end it should come down to story, I believe that animation isn’t a genre and is a medium, but some stories are better told in other mediums, There Will Be Blood shouldn’t be a play or animation, it is a film and wouldn’t be better as anything else. Same as the Incredibles is one of the best super hero movies ever because unlike when Spider Man swings through the city and he’s cartoon we lose our emotional connection to the real one. Or a film like Tekkon Kinkreet, that could never be executed with real children.

    The medium is the message. The Wire because it’s on TV, Daffy Duck because it’s short, Shakespeare because it’s a play.

    But in the end it’s not like animation is going away, it’s in more things than ever before with no sign of that stopping. If anything is discouraging it’s that there isn’t people with money who will back full animation outside the “family movie” arena. And if they do i.e. Scanner Darkly, people stay away.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    “BOOMERANG” = Joy!

  • TStevens

    If you want to compartmentalize yourself exclusively as an animator that is cool. However, there is nothing to be lost by exploring the creative outlets that you want whether it be live action, comic books, animation, or anything else.

  • http://www.deptap.com Rajesh

    Sure animation is a medium. Just like acrylics, pencil, ink, watercolor, charcoal, oils, etc, etc, etc.

    Just because one works in pencil, doesn’t mean he or she should be stuck to it. And just because one directs animation, doesn’t mean he or she should be stuck to that.

  • red pill junkie

    I suppose one other reason to switch from animation to live-action is that live-action movies are not as time-demanding as an animated motion picture is. You can do more projects in a less amount of time.

    It wouldn’t surprise one bit if Brad creates his own studio in 10-15 years from now.

  • Badjoojoo

    TV and feature films are two very different beasts. CN’s drift towards live action, I believe, is very different from Wedge, Bird and Stanton taking on live action. CN’s decision was probably due to questions (rightly or wrongly) about sustainability for the network. But I think in the case of these three veteran feature film directors, they just all happened to get to a point in their careers where they wanted to try something different…not out of any distaste or weariness with animation and a need to move on, but a need to expand artistically. It’s not like a beanstalk growing up and away, but a bush growing outward. I don’t see these guys getting away from animation in any permanent way, I think they’ll all come right back to animation soon enough and will be all the better as a result their live-action experiences.

  • http://www.spitandspite.com Spit & Spite

    Isn’t Brad Bird just doing this because he wants to? What’s wrong with that, Bird can do no wrong in my opinion.

    I’m sure he’s choosing that medium because it’s best suits the story, anyways, let’s be honest, Pixar isn’t going to do films which provoke or even disturb too much right? How much do you think a Pixar film is going to shock you to the point where the film stays with you on an emotional level for years and years after? Sure, you may reference or even memorize certain moments in a film but there’s still some disconnect eventually. And you may only reference the sheer beauty or craftmanship. Now look at Dogville or Turtles Can Fly or Irréversible? That content will never be in animated films, maybe rightly so…

    Anyways, what more could you ask for? I’m pumped to see how he utilizes this new canvas, imagine a live action film with a director who’s fully mastered composition, color, story, pacing and the like? Exciting stuff, can’t wait…

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    I guess it’s up to Japan, France, and Spain to keep the art form alive and growing, as they always have…

    Can’t wait to see the new “Live Action Brew” website! :P

  • Asymetrical

    What are you basing this all on?
    Because they run reruns or because they have one live action show in Out of Jimmy’s Head?

    The only reason Cartoon Network runs live action reruns is they have nothing else to run at the moment. 24 hours is a whooooole lot a cartoons to dig up. It’s left over from the stupid regime that just got thrown out and while they clean house and restructure that’s what’s available. If you watched or read about their upfront there was NO mention of live action. None that I saw.

    Cartoon Network has publicly stated it’s getting back to it’s roots and the green light of over 150 new shorts over the next two years proves that I think. The fact that artists like McCracken and Renzetti instead of suits are running it is a huge boon to the whole process as well. They’re also moving their development team from Atlanta to L.A. to work more with the artists.

    Hopefully that’s a good thing.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… SUPPORT animation with your ideas. PITCH something to Cartoon Network and MAKE that next big hit that will bring back animation instead of crying that it’s dead already. It’s only as dead as we, the artists, allow it to be.

  • MadRat

    I kind of agree with what Asymetrical said. I watch a lot of Cartoon Network and I was under the impression that they’d given up live action. Tim & Eric are gone, Goosebumps is gone, Pee Wee’s Play House and Saved By The Bell went away a long time ago, Saul of the Mole Men is gone, Out of Jimmy’s Head is in reruns at the times when no one’s watching TV anyway. Did I miss any?

  • Jason Groh

    This post has a subtle impending doom flavour.
    Heralding the idea that our brightest and most successful are going to leave and it’s the winds of change in animation creating this new BrainDrain threat.
    This is a natural process of growth and allows filmakers new subject matter that the animation stage does not always embrace.
    As for new…..Think… Frank Tashlin,BobClampett,Tim Burton,Joe Johnston, or Ralph Bakshi.
    All of them started in Animation and all ventured into live action of some sort or another.
    Brad Bird and Chris Wedge are just business as usual not a crisis at hand!

    J:)

  • Dave Knott

    This argument doesn’t hold water to me. Why can’t a painter try their hand at photography? Does this mean painting is an inferior medium? No. Who cares if Bird or Mayerson want to flex different muscles and try live action. (Would we even be having this discussion if they were doing an off-Broadway play?) Both have achieved enough success and notoriety to make it possible to explore live action directing, something few people will ever get the chance to do in their lifetime. Why not try it out? To make the leap and say animation was a mere stepping stone to live action is just not good logic. I would bet Bird and Mayerson will both still produce animation projects in the future. To extrapolate their project choices as another nail in animation’s coffin is just silly.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    There’s a lot of misdirected anger towards Mark here, who I’ve long felt is one of the greatest writers (if not THE greatest) on animation. If you’ve even bothered to read his past pieces, you’ll quickly find out that there is nobody who would like to see animation tackle more issues and ground than Mark does. Just because he’s saying it like it is, that the field is confined by suits that it allowed itself to be infiltrated with, doesn’t make him a defeatist.

  • Jason Groh

    Asymetrical says:……………
    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… SUPPORT animation with your ideas. PITCH something to Cartoon Network and MAKE that next big hit that will bring back animation instead of crying that it’s dead already. It’s only as dead as we, the artists, allow it to be.

    AMEN BROTHER!!!!!!

  • Keith Paynter

    Funny, I don’t think anybody crapped on Frank Tashlin’s successful move to live action comedies during the 50′s, many of which are now cult classics.

  • Andrew

    Chris Wedge directing a live-action film? In the Ice Age commentary, he stated himself that he never had experience with live-action, and simply went into the animation business! I am confident that Brad Bird can make a great live-action film, but I am very worried about Wedge.

    And also, Network ALWAYS accepts and airs brand new cartoons, but they’re pretty much the same kind of fare as five years ago.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    It’s ironic, but I’ve found that some people who complain about animation being relegated to a children’s ghetto are quick to vehemently resist the experimentation required to move it beyond that rut. What the animation business needs now, more than ever, is someone like Bakshi who storms in and rips the lid off of all the cliched jive-talking animals and fairy tale princesses.

    Mark Mayerson is a fine guy, but when he says that live action is capable of “a greater range of subject matter”, he’s just plain wrong. There’s a whole world of animation out there that proves the fact, and there’s another whole world that hasn’t even been thought of yet. Instead of justifying the actions of animators who abandon their medium for more practical pursuits, we should be promoting the animators who are willing to explore new ways to fully exploit the art of animation.

  • Dave Levy

    Stephen,
    I don’t believe Mark meant what you took it to mean when he wrote, ” a greater range of subject matter,” when he described live action. I believe Mark is suggesting that there’s a greater range of subject matter in the live action that makes it to the toob and big screen. And, he’s RIGHT. What YOU are talking about, Stephen, is what potential animation has to offer. Nobody would argue with you. BUT, the point is that Live action is NOT restricted to mostly G-rated family fare as animation currently is in North America.

    Mr. Bird (and Chris Wedge) each have a string of successful animated features under their belt. These men are far from over, career-wise. If they have the opportunity to direct live action, I would say that it’s like any new challenge that might come there way. It offers a new set of creative and technical problems to slay in a different area of film. Kudos to them!

    We would all be wise to look back at how foolish those folkie purists look today for having booed Bob Dylan going electric back in the mid 60′s. Dylan was an artist on his own journey and that journey should never be set by fans or the public. The artist goes where it goes. Many were put off by the Beatles evolution in the 1960s as well. Now its all seen as art… and no doubt, Brad Bird’s films will one day form a full body of his work and will be seen as a whole.

    There’s nothing to complain about folks…

  • Matt Sullivan

    Usually the film scripts I write start out as an animation-only idea. ( that’s because I knew any of them would cost upwards of 500 million bucks if I even TRIED to make them in live action. )

    But as CG has become cheaper and much more prevalent, my mindset has changed. I love things like old-school visual effects, animatronics, puppetry, and still have a great fantasy of making one of my films in live-action with those type of visual effects )

    But I also realize, that a producer would likely say “we can only afford to do this in 3D”, so I bear that in mind with ANY story I write.

    One other thing. Brad Bird has two smash hits under his belt and a third critically acclaimed ( iron giant ) Which in my mind puts him on the same level as a young Spielberg.

    But have you noticed that animated films seem to fall outside that category of recognizing the director as some kind of wunderkind? Live action movies ALSO have armies of crew members, but THOSE directors seem to be far more “noticed” and “celebrity-like”

    No one respects animation.AMERICAN ANIMATION that is, Everyone SWOONS over anime.

  • Death

    I think the problem isn’t the insistent reliance of Animation being a kids thing and more of that humanity isn’t into abstraction anymore. Computer graphics and all the focus on “Reality” on Cable and the internet has taken away everybody’s appreciation for Impressionists, Watercolours, Surrealists, even Da Vinci’s work is reduced to medical interests! Music barely holds because Rap mainly talks about what everybody wants to do-the same goes for Video Games. Animation doesn’t stand a chance in the 21st century…

  • Tim Fox

    Can anyone explain why neither Cartoon Network nor Boomerang has any of Warner Bros. classic animation on them? I presume that it’s more lucrative to limit access to the DVD market and other venues…

  • http://pediatristsplayground.blogspot.com “Kenny” Martinez

    I don’t quite understand the idea of “live action directors having more freedom”. If you’re not independent, or someone like George Lucas or Peter Jackson, aren’t you just as much at the mercy of suits and financial backers as animation directors.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Wouldn’t it be better for an animator who has the clout that comes from success to push out the bounds of what is expected from an animated film, rather than move on to another medium where it’s easier to explore a wider range of subject matters? The main problem I see with animation today is that there aren’t enough people willing to fight for the art form. If everyone sells out to the status quo or moves on to greener pastures, who’s left to make great cartoons? Since we all agree that animation needs a wider range of subject matters, who is going to be the one who fights to make films that explore that?

    Personally, I think that animation has taken a huge step backwards. We’re more concerned with technical processes and producing a product, than we are pushing for new and greater artistry and expressiveness. It’s as if we’re back in the primative days that immediately followed Winsor McCay, and Walt Disney and Warner Bros never happened. I’m banking on the next generation of animators to reclaim what’s been lost by my own generation.

  • Dave Levy

    We can’t assign nor expect any one person to be the standard bearer of animation and nor can we dictate to someone the career plans they ought to be making. Folks like Brad Bird are making their own path and if it guides them to make Elvis paintings on black velvet, so be it. Again, the folkies wanted Bob Dylan to stay in one place creatively and were outraged when he pursued his own plans. That’s what every artist worth his or her salt must do. It doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned anything. It does mean they have a healthy artistic curiousity and a restless spirit.

    Brad Bird is off to a new challenge. Who could find fault with that?

    As for who is going to fight for animation to make films with diverse subjects? Look no further than the indy animation scene in NYC and other places. We’re making innovative shorts and features over here and there’s a whole community of us. The last generation didn’t have the means to make inexpensive indy animated features… but, this new generation does. The result of that is now bearing fruit. Just look at Nina Paley’s new feature film, Sita Sings the Blues.

  • http://www.goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    In response to Tim Fox: Cartoon Network (and therefore Boomerang) no longer has the rights to the classic Warner cartoons. Their contract for the TV rights expired a couple years ago, and they weren’t able to reach a deal with parent company Warner Bros. to renew it.

    Technically, they do still have the rights to the pre-1948 library that Turner has had since the dawn of time, and ran them for a while on Boomerang. For reasons unknown, they’re gone now, too.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    What Death said made me sad. :-(

    I don’t know what else to say about that but it’s a shame to think people are so into what is being churned out of Hollywood with it’s push for more “reality” over what could come out of the mind of an artist that had been the cornerstone of the art world for millenniums. I wish people would get out more often and check out museums/galleries like I had.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Each individual is free to make whatever career decisions they want. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the debt an artist owes to his muse. I wholeheartedly agree that independents are animation’s biggest hope for the future. My objection was to the concept that live action is capable of a wider range of subject matter, and that everyone outgrows animation eventually. Those are rationalizations used by people who don’t belong in animation in the first place. I love animation. Comments like that make my blood boil.

  • Alan

    Well, why isn’t there a CGSociety-level forum for “Independents” out there?

  • Death

    The recent post about Bugs Bunny and Baseball could also be an example of another reason Animation is getting such a bum rap. Society is starting to feel that we are taking “imaginary characters” way too seriously and that creeps them out a…

  • ridgecity

    I think this is more a matter of budgets, animation is very expensive and there’s too much at stake if it doesn’t work. Korean animators aren’t working for pennies anymore, and most asian studios are making the transition to 3d, where can you send your cartoons now if you are on a budget? live action can be done anywhere and might be more popular look at High School Musical. Remember that art is 20% of animation and 80% is about money.

    And about Brad Bird, I think every story needs a different treatment. Toy Story works better in 3d, but The Incredibles could have been done with live action. Animation can expand upon a story, but animation is a lot of work and you really need to have everything ready before you start investing on it. live action you can even reshoot stuff weeks before opening.

    I love animation, but It’s a ton of work to make a story come to life, and sometimes the story doesn’t really need animation. I’ve sometime4s seen anime with serious subjects, and while it works, it feels underachieved or without style, and could have been done on live action.

    A good example would be the Jackie Chan cartoon, his movies are full of stunts and you go to that movie to see the action not the story. The cartoon, the story takes over and the Jackie Chan action feels “meh” so it looses and the impressive stunts he is famous for, and brings the stories, something his movies lack all the time…

  • Eddie Fitzgerald

    Cartooning is in trouble, not just animation. Look at what’s in the newspapers these days. Where are the comic books, the mass market sports and theater caricatures, book illustrations, etc.?

    I simply refuse to let cartooning die on my watch. An artform that’s roughly 160 years old, that has a great tradition, and which is so artistically satisfying and so cheap and accessable to the common man, shouldn’t be allowed to wither on the vine. Losing cartoons and cartooning is like losing dance or music or architecture.

    Cartoonists who came before us kept the industry alive and healthy for us, now it’s our responsibility to keep it alive and healthy for the people who come after us.

  • Tom

    Well, if you want a look at the new generation of cartoonists, just look at webcomics like Penny Arcade or Dr. McNinja.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Eddie is right, damn it. If animation was in a creatively solid state, it wouldn’t be a big deal if a few of the prominent talents dabbled in live action. But when they’re defecting to live action because it’s easier to tell stories that fall outside the idiotic restraints we put on “what an animated film should be”, then they’re fair weather friends to one of the greatest artforms of the 20th century.

    If I’m going to be choosing heros in this business, it’s going to be people like Eddie who are willing to strap themselves to the bow and weather the storm for the medium they love. Any animator who doesn’t feel a pang of regret for how far animation has fallen, and doesn’t feel like he or she owes something to all of the great animators that built this great art for us, doesn’t deserve to be called an animator.

    Those three paragraphs that Eddie just wrote should be engraved in marble and hung in the hallway of every animation school in the country. And anyone who dares to say that animation is something you grow out of, and that live action is capable of a wider range of subject matter should have their mouth washed out with soap.

  • Dave Levy

    I respect Eddie and Stephen’s passion on the subject and their sincere love of animation. I totally understand what you are seeking to preserve. For that, you guys rock.

    I must say I completely disagree to the criticism you impose on someone who dares follow their muse as Brad Bird is clearly doing. He’s not doing anything to the medium of animation nor to the any of us personally. Congrats to Brad Bird for his continuing career as a filmmaker. He’s already given us three fine features and I’m curious to see what he does next. If his subsequent project is another animated feature, will that give him a good conduct pass from the Gods of animation? This is total foolishness.

    May all of us nurture our individual careers and follow that spirit where it takes us. It’s a pity that people feel the need to assign lots of negative meaning behind one artist’s journey. It is yet another sad example of the poor state of criticism in the animation industry.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    I’ve heard of Brad Bird doing a live-action movie long before this post. While I’m highly looking forward to seeing what he can do, it’s nothing new. He wrote for BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, for crying out loud! Live-action is a medium that Brad has had respect for. They were inspirations to his animated filmmaking. So, in no way is Brad giving up animation for good, he’ll no doubt go back to animation after this experiment. He’s not selling out, he’s buying in! Brad will no doubt be a master of both worlds.

    Did Trey Parker and Matt Stone “sell out” for doing live-action movies besides SOUTH PARK? Especially when those movies were pretty cool (especially TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE)! It’s a shame they won’t be doing GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK JAPAN, which I was looking forward to.

    As an aspiring cartoonist/animator/filmmaker, I’ve experimented with both mediums myself. So I’d hardly be “selling out.”

    It’s a shame about Teletoon, but seriously, you’re all waiting for an apocalypse that will never happen. CN only has ONE LIVE-ACTION SHOW!!! (Adult Swim now only has a few.) Animation is not being replaced, nor will it go away. Most of the classic stuff is now on DVD (some shown on Boomerang). It’s time for new shows, but I’d like to see GOOD new shows. And most of them aren’t on Cartoon Network! I see some good shows on Discovery Kids, or on Nickelodeon (the latter CANCELS a lot of good new shows! MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT, THE X’s and EL TIGRE, for example)! Objectively, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon were always kids channels at the core, so live-action programming is not uncommon. I doubt CN will become more and more live-action. It’s more sporadic than anything.

    This whole Luddite mentality, and looking for a “The Man” to run from, will get us nowhere. It’s just a phase, not an apocalypse.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    What isn’t mentioned in these uninformed tirades and hissy fits, like those of Steve Worth, is that Brad Bird isn’t ‘leaving’ animation. He is directing a film that he feels is more suited to live-action. He will likely be directing animation again in the future.

    Chill, bros.

  • MattSullivan

    I hear ya John Paul C. I can’t WAIT to sell out. Meaning I’d like to make some money and hopefully secure a deal with minimal studio interference. * wishful thinking, I know *

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    I’m not criticizing Brad Bird. If his personal creative urge is leading him to live action, that’s perfectly fine for him. But that isn’t what Mark Mayerson’s article said. He was suggesting that this is a TREND across the whole animation business, not an individual artist’s choice. If this truly is a trend, and if there are animators out there who really do believe that they’ve outgrown animation, and need to go to live action to be able to explore a wider range of subjects, then something is terribly wrong.

    Maybe this is symptomatic of our entire culture. Eddie is dead right when he points out that so many aspects of cartooning are a pale shadow today of what they used to be. Imagine a world with Winsor McCay, George McManus, Rube Goldberg and George Herriman all sat elbow to elbow in the funny pages. Imagine being able to choose between going to one theater to see Bambi or another to see Bugs Bunny. Look at the illustrations in the typical Colliers or Esquire from the 30s and then look at today’s magazines…

    Every day at the ASIFA archive I’m faced with the stark difference between cartooning in the past- when it was the powerful medium of Thomas Nast and Chuck Jones- and today, when it’s relegated to being a disposable momentary diversion. It’s hard not to be discouraged. Thankfully, there are kids who see what needs to be done and are fired up to do it- even if my generation has given up on the dream.

    Animation has far too many Wimpys out for instant gratification and personal gain, and not enough Popeyes willing to roll up their sleeves and fight for what they believe in. I knew enough of the old timers in the business to know which side of that fence most of them fell on. I see a lot of kids at the archive that feel the same way. I choose my heros from the ranks of those who have passion for their artform and are willing to fight to defend it.

    Everyone talks about Walt Disney, but no one emulates his greatest attribute. He was a risk taker and a dreamer. He gambled everything he owned to move the art of animation forward, and through his television programs he inspired us to go to the moon. That’s the kind of person we need today. Let’s make THAT the trend.

    Perhaps the rest of the world isn’t going to follow in the footsteps of the “greatest generation” that preceded us. But for myself, I sure as hell am going to try to. I’m not ashamed of animation. I know the power in cartooning. I won’t outgrow it until I’m six feet underground.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    “uninformed tirades and hissy fits, like those of Steve Worth”

    Are we allowed to post ad hominem attacks now? Because if people can’t maintain respect for the people they’re talking with, I’m not interested in participating.

  • Christopher

    Hey Eddie F. – Why then did you change from drawing and posting cartoon philosophies to doing VIDEO philosophies?

    CP (Cartoon Philosophies) – C(artoon) = P(hilosophies) Yawn!

    Haw haw. =)

    (All in fun Mr. Fitz)

  • Christopher

    PS – I would love, love, love to see more print work from John K. and SPUMCO!!! The 4 COMIC BOOKS were fantastic. I don’t see why John K. has just limited his work to animation? I’d love to read my son some tongue-in-cheek children’s books. A few newspaper cartoonists have branched into the children’s book market. Bill Plympton has printed graphic novels of his storyboards before releasing the feature.

    Children’s books are a great way to get word-of-mouth started to help get an animated series produced. With digital printing being so available, one doesn’t even have to rely on the regular distribution methods.

    There’s plenty of ways to keep cartooning alive. Look at the manga section of any Barnes and Noble. Give the kids what they want! Animation studios need to stop with this mamby-pamby shlock they dish out year after year.

    Where’s Ralph Bakshi?!! Gimme WIZARDS II, dammit!!!